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Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective

The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.

Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.

Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.


What is the final objective of liberalism?

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism/progressivism is the equal sharing of miseries.

—Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

As I watched the first presidential debate between Obama and Romney, I was asked a question on where I thought Obama was going to take the country, "If Obama had complete power and authority, what systems would he put into place and how would the country be structured politically and economically?"   Frankly, I didn't have an answer.  But I thought the question would make for a good debate on this blog.  

When Obama and US liberalism has reached its final objective, what will it look like? Will it be the police state of Cuba? Will it represent the ‘soft socialism’ of Europe? Will it look like the complex Chinese model with a capitalist/control economy but with very limited personal liberties?

I have never seen a clear statement of objectives and defined outcomes from the liberal politicians and organizations. I have seen general statements of disconnected ideas of objectives. But a document was never produced on what the goal is and how to get there.

Publicly stated objectives of past Liberals

The Johnson administration launched the ‘war against poverty’ with the goal of creating a social contract in which all people in the US will not need to worry about food or housing regardless of their employment status. Government will supply the safety net to prevent anyone from falling too far.

According to Gloria Steinem the goal of social liberalism is to remove the stigma of moral choices; “…must remove the concept that one lifestyle or birth control choice is better or worse than any other.”

Senator Edward Kennedy has stated that the Democratic Party would create an economic environment in which the economic standing of all people will be equalized; ie, all US citizens will roughly have the same access to material goods.  

“The democratic liberal tradition then, as expressed through the 'Objective' aims for real democracy, in the sphere of the economy, the state, and broader civil society as opposed to the rule of wealth. It seeks to abolish poverty and social injustice, and to precipitate a more just, compassionate and humane order based upon dignity, autonomy and human solidarity.” Fabian Society

Friedrich Nitzsche said that the objective of progressivism and socialism is to elevate the state over the individual. The liberties of the individual must be curbed for the benefit of the state, because unbridled individual liberties are inconsistent with a progressive economy.  The state has the power to enact the greater good over the ability of the individual.

The concept of a social utopia is easy to sell. Everyone wants a society of equality and peace. Everyone wants to escape the consequences of their own decisions; particularly the bad decisions. The idea of government saving us from ourselves has appeal.  

The theme of ‘the greater good’ is often repeated in some form as the objective of liberalism. 

But what would this ‘greater good’ look like? Is it possible to achieve a greater good?   The attempt to create a greater good is extremely expensive as we are finding out…as demonstrated in Ireland, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, etc. And in many countries the ‘greater good’ has been abandoned in favor of remaining solvent.

I give liberal politicians the benefit of the doubt and I believe that in general, their concepts of liberalism are theoretically nice. But the idea that they fail to grasp is that man is too corrupt to be trusted with the power necessary to take liberalism to its end-game. 

In the liberal utopia, what will restrain the evil vices of man?

Statements in opposition to liberal ideals

“The search for a liberal Nirvana, like the search for Utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle.”   Christopher Hitchens

Friedrich Hayek, in his book, ‘The road to serfdom’ used this phrase to sum up progressivism: "What has always made a progressive country a hell on earth has been precisely that social re-distribution has tried to make it our heaven."   

Similarly, Milton Friedman, “In our attempts to create heaven, we have created hell.”  “Do gooderism is the root of all evil not covered by greed.”

President Reagan said that liberalism will not work because everyone is not created the same; some have more ambition, some are better actors, some are better athletes and some have a more keen mind. The cream will rise despite the best efforts of the liberals to keep mixing. 

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